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WNBL: Fire and Boomers to face off in grand final
The finals series kicked off with Melbourne Boomers hosting top placed Perth Lynx for game 1 of semi final 1. The game got off to a fast pace start with both teams showing a few nerves and a lot of energy. Melbourne edged in front in the first quarter, and kept their lead going into the main break. Rebecca Cole gave her side the sparks they needed off the bench, showing lots of energy on both ends of the court. Alice Kunek was shooting well from the field, and both Sami Whitcomb and Courtney Williams were working hard to make things happen on the offensive end for the Lynx.
The Boomers came out even fiercer in the second half, and kept the high scoring Lynx to just 10 points in the third term. Despite losing the fourth quarter, Melbourne hung on to their lead to kick off the series with a 92-76 point win. Perth struggled to find a match up for Liz Cambage, who scored 16 points and 9 rebounds in just 17 minutes of court time due to foul trouble. Cole top scored for her side with 21 points, and Jenna O’Hea showed some great leadership on the court finishing with 7 points, 11 assists and 5 steals. Both Brittany Smart (15 points) and Maddie Garrick (14 points) were damaging on the scoreboard. Kunek finished on the most points for the game with 22 points, with her teammate Sami Whitcomb not far behind on 19 points. Perth struggled to find their accuracy, with just 35% shooting average from the field compared to Melbourne’s 50%.
It was then Perth’s turn to host the Boomers in game 2, and the game got off to the same fast pace, energetic and nervous start that game 1 begun with. The Lynx found some rhythm in the second term and went into the main break with some momentum. However the Boomers finally found Liz Cambage inside in the last quarter, and she turned the game right around to give her side the win and send them into the grand final. Melbourne finished on 78 to Perth’s 69. Cambage scored 25 points and 15 rebounds, and Maddie Garrick was also impressive with 18 points and 5 rebounds.
The Lynx tried hard to find some momentum, Courtney Williams led the way with 20 points and 12 rebounds and Kayla Standish had 17 points. It was shooting again that cost the Lynx, with just 33% from the field.
If the first quarter was anything to go by, game 1 of semi final 2 was going to go right down to the wire in Townsville. With a lead of just two points, the Fire were up against reigning champions Sydney. However Townsville managed to hold the Flames to just 8 points in the second term, compared to their own 22 giving them a huge lead going into the main break.
Townsville kept their momentum for the remainder of the game, as Sydney only scored 11 points in both the third and fourth term. Townsville came out on top 78-49 The Fire’s three talls in Suzy Batkovic, Cayla George and Darcee Garbin were a force to be reckoned with. Batkovic was the best on court with 19 points, 14 rebounds and 3 assists, George had 14 points and 10 rebounds and Garbin had 15 points and 7 rebounds. Townsville’s defense forced Sydney to just 24% shooting from the field with only Belinda Snell making it to double figures with 11.
Game 2 of semi final 2 was much different scenario to game 1, as Sydney came out with more energy and desire to win. The Flames kept Batkovic quiet early, as Asia Taylor and Jennifer Hamson looked to be taking control of the game. However Townsville found a way, forcing Sydney into 20 turnovers along with some quality shooting from Sydney Wiese and George and Batkovic finding their way into the game, the Fire came out on top as 3-point winners.
Batkovic and Weise finished on 14 points each, Batkovic adding 10 rebounds to her game and George had 14 points. Taylor (18 points) and Hamson (15 points) were Sydney’s best.
Townsville will now host the Boomers on Saturday January 13 to kick off the grand final, followed by Melbourne hosting Townsville on Thursday January 18 and if needed, back to Townsville on Sunday January 21. Melbourne are yet to overcome the Fire this season, their first encounter 63-54, then 64-57 and then 73-66 with Townsville coming out on top each time.